Time for an Unconventional Fight

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by VN Vets 

Although they will never admit it, last spring’s campaign to send our Vietnam Service Medals back to the White House, the Senate and the House was a success. It was what prompted Filner to introduce the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009. We all know that it subsequently got loaded down by other Veterans groups and failed to move out of committee last session. The bill died under its own weight.

Now we are three months late in the new bill that was promised.

We now ask ourselves, who has been missing from this fight? Not the FRA, which has been actively with us every step of the way, and not the V.V.A., which has also been directly involved with the legislative process to restore our benefits.

     

But outside of financial support for the Haas case, and a few resolutions on our behalf at their annual conventions, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have been noticeably absent.

That said, we need to hammer the VFW and the American Legion for never applying enough pressure by their legislative staff, and their Sr. Officers to get Filner and Akaka to pass the legislation.

Beyond funding the Haas Case, which I question would EVER have been a precedent since Haas was claiming direct exposure, the VFW and the Legion have done nothing, zilch, zero.

Why would you remain with a Veterans Organization that doesn’t support you?

I’m sorry, I love the VFW. It is the first VSO I ever joined. A BT Chief came around the ship within hours of our first crossing into the Combat Zone and signed us up for $5 a pop in the Fall River, Mass. VFW Post. When I moved to my present location I went into the local VFW Post and fell in love with it. The people made me feel welcome without knowing a thing about me. I still feel that way even though they know me now. 🙂

I joined the American Legion when I got home, my father’s post, and was elected as the youngest Jr. Vice Commander ever in my state. It didn’t last, as I attended the meetings long enough to see they spent 10 minutes with the bar closed, raced through the meeting, and then opened the bar again, all without leaving their seats at the bar and the poker tables.

Great guys, lots of fun, but…

Now here we are 43 years later and what has either done for me? That may be short sighted, but as far as I can tell, they’ve concentrated on the WW I, WW II, and Korean war Vets, and skipped us entirely. I don’t begrudge those Vets their organizational services, but would have liked to have been under that same umbrella. I never felt it was there for us.

Face it. we fought a war during which a minority of folks poisoned our legacy at home while the Government poisoned us in theater.

Two Vietnam Vets who served in the Navy have run for President, one a phony hero, the other legitimately a hero, and both were soundly defeated. There is a message in that. The people have never forgotten or forgiven us for the sins that were falsely charged to our accounts.

If we want that legacy, if we want those benefits, we must engage in unconventional warfare.

I am sending my VFW and American Legion Life Membership Cards back to their respective national HQ and renouncing my membership in both organizations. I am sending this statement with it:

    Dear National Commander of the American Legion,

    I am returning and renouncing my life membership in the American Legion to protest the extremely dissatisfying lack of public and lobbying pressure on Congress to restore presumptive Agent Orange benefits to Blue Water Navy, Blue Sky Air Force, and Thailand, Laos and Cambodia Veterans of the Vietnam War. Legislation a decade or more ago should have been enacted and would have corrected the path on which the DVA was embarked to deprive more and more Vietnam Veterans of their legacy and their rightful benefits. This inaction is disgraceful in a national Veterans Service Organization of the stature of the American Legion.

    Merely mouthing words at a table in front of the Congressional Committees on Veterans Affairs, and issuing a resolution at a national convention is tantamount to lip service toward the hundreds of thousands of remaining Vietnam Veterans. Instead, your inaction has led to a whole class of Veterans being reclassified as Vietnam Era Veterans, no longer Vietnam Veterans, and the deprivation of rightful benefits.

    It is to the utter shame of the American Legion that your inaction has led to the early deaths of far too many Vietnam Veterans, and the deprivation of benefits for tens of thousands of widows and survivors who will now never see a penny from the DVA.

    American Legion, you have left us behind.

    Sincerely,

    Life Member # xxxxxxxxxx

I will of course substitute Veterans of Foreign Wars for American Legion with my second letter.

I will also remain a member of the Home Association of both of my local posts. It is not their fault that the National Officers have failed us.

I will be mailing these out on Monday.

I’m tired of waiting around and doing nothing while Congress fiddles with Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran resolutions [HRes 234] that do not include us instead of passing the legislation we need now!

Visit VN Vets for more Info at: http://vnvets.blogspot.com

 

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